Surrounded by a crowd of friends, neighbors and local officials, several outstanding volunteers were presented with Jefferson Awards at a ceremony held at Grain Craft Bar & Kitchen on Monday, March 19. Organizations and groups engaged in LEAD360 projects were also recognized with certificates of achievement.
"We have so many amazing individuals in our community, who are committed to serving others and making a positive impact," said Mayor Polly Sierer. "It's an honor and a privilege to recognize their efforts and thank them for their selflessness and dedication."
Founded in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Senator Robert Taft Jr., and Sam Beard, the Jefferson Awards Foundation identifies and honors local unsung heroes, celebrating their outstanding community service. Below is a list of the individuals recognized this year, along with a portion of their nomination submission:
Judy Taggart (Friends of Newark Library)
Judy has provided a lifetime of volunteer hours to the community of Newark. In addition to her service to the library, she has served as Director of the Chesapeake Girl Scout Council, President of the New Castle County League of Women Voters, and is a Director of AARP of Delaware. She is on the board of the Newark Senior Center and volunteers as a school mentor. Through her quiet dedication, she touches the lives of countless Newarkers of all ages.
Steve Sinko (Fusion Inclusion)
If you've ever seen a Fusion Inclusion running chair in action at a local road race, you know what it means for everyone to have the opportunity to participate. Laughter, smiles, cheers - the multiply when Fusion Inclusion chairs are present. The good vibes are invigorating and motivating. And though he'd never admit it, those positive feelings are a direct result of the work Steve puts in to make Fusion Inclusion part of the racing community. He helps other runners see the people in the running chairs as more than just individuals with a disability. They become familiar faces and even friends. Our Newark community is strong - and more inclusive - because of Steve.
Deb Buenaga (Preston's Playground) In two years, Deb has helped raise over $500,0000 for the completion of Preston's Playground, an all-inclusive playground named after her son. She also runs her own non-profit called Preston's March for Energy, which gives away adaptive bikes to kids with special needs. Her organization has given away over 100 bikes to date. Her impact and dedication to the community to help bridge the gap for inclusive activities is remarkable. Her commitment and involvement with the City of Newark has enabled this playground to be realized and construction/installation at the Newark reservoir will begin in the coming months.
David Milsom (Newark American Little League)
Countless families have been positively impacted by Mr. Milsom's firm but caring approach to coaching and mentoring. His leadership and engagement with his players and families surpasses that of typical coach. He draws from years of experience to motivate and guide in the right direction, while calmly and constructively suggesting opportunities for improvement, providing training options, and developing the character of hundreds of young men and women in Newark.
Carole Walsh (Parks & Recreation/League of Women Voters)
Carole is an integral part of the Newark Parks and Recreation Department, instructing fitness classes since 1971 and continuing to teach class today. She is the longest-standing employee for the department, with over 45 years of service. Carole's lifelong commitment to fitness and dedication to her classes has provided countless people the opportunity to build and maintain their fitness level. Her classes have a regular following of participants, some of whom have been a part of her class for decades. She truly deserves the recognition for all her years of service to the Newark community.